Driving Sustainable Innovation in Tough Times

While many companies are hunkering down during the current economic storm, smart companies understand that it is critical to drive the market, instead of being driven down by it. CEOs have to be committed to sustainable innovation, and management must make its commitment to innovation palpable.

Here are several ways for management to drive the innovation culture at your company:

•Invest in people. Develop innovation capabilities by providing innovation best-practices training.

•Reward wanted behavior. Publicly reward those who distinguish themselves as innovators. Two examples: Create annual innovators awards. Build a wall of innovation.

•Invest in infrastructure to support sustainable innovation.

•Visibility to corporate objectives. Often investment is wasted on ideas that are doomed from the start because they are not aligned with the needs of the company. Knowledge-workers must be able to integrate corporate strategy into their innovation paths.

•Practice innovation. Workers must practice innovation in everything they do. Managers must support innovation workers and not push employees to short-circuit the solution process.

Managers who avoid taking responsibility for driving an innovation culture by using the crutch of "adoption must be a grassroots thing" will always be met with failure and left wondering why they can’t achieve their repeatable innovation goals.

James Todhunter Chief Technology Officer Invention Machine Boston

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